Neighbours have chopped down our tree without our permission

Neighbours have chopped down our tree without our permission

Postby clairlybel » Sun Feb 08, 2015 10:18 pm

Hi everyone

Looking for some advice

Neighbour came to see me on Tuesday 27th, he said they were having someone in to trim their conifer on the following Monday (2nd) and could they trim our willow on their side at the same time. I said a trim on their side was fine. I asked if anyone would need to come on our land and neighbour said no.

Fast forward a week, Wednesday morning (first day I'd been home when it was light), opened bedroom curtains and got a shock! Ran downstairs, opened patio doors and all the branches had gone. Our gorgeous willow tree, taller than our 2 storey house, now down to a trunk.

Went round to the neighbours that evening, his wife answered the door, I asked her if she'd seen our tree, she said yes. I said our gardener reckoned it might not grow back and she said "We don't want it to grown back". I told her that actually it is OUR tree and that all they were allowed to do was trim it if it went over the fence into their side and then offer us back the trimmings. She told me that her husband told her I had agreed to this. Which I hadn't. She said to come back when her husband was back.

I did some ringing round on the Thursday, I checked with the council that there was no TPO on the tree (When we bought the house, solicitor said there was a TPO somewhere, she just wasn't sure where), council said no it had no TPO, and to ring the citizens advice bureau. Did that, they said to call the police, call the RICS and call a solicitor. Police said they can't do anything unless the tree is dead. If its dead it's criminal and they can prosecute. Trespass is civil so would need a solicitor. Rang RICS, spoke to a surveyor, they said that as the tree is obviously ours (FYI it's the tree, a gap, fence, then neighbours land) and that the damage had been done, he couldn't help, he also recommended the police. Spoke to multiple solicitors, they said to speak to the neighbour and see if he would pay to put it right, eg pay for a mature tree in it's place. I also asked our gardener to recommend a tree surgeon to come round to have a look at it.

Rang tree surgeon, turned out it was HIM that cut our tree down. He said he did the quote for neighbour in October. He said neighbour had told him we had agreed to this months ago and had MULTIPLE conversations about it. Apparently on Monday, neighbour went through everything with him all over again "Take conifer to gutter height and willow chop all the way down". Tree surgeon said he had no reason not to believe neighbour. I said why didn't you just knock on our door? He said that neighbour was adamant. I said we had our whole garden landscaped, time, effort and thousands of pounds, if we'd wanted a tree going we'd have had it done then. I said why on earth would we want a gorgeous, tall, characterful tree chopping back to a trunk. He said it is called pollarding and that is what neighbour instructed. I said I've never heard that term before and had someone told me that's what they were going to do, I'd have googled it before agreeing to ANYTHING. I asked him where our branches are, he wouldn't tell me. I asked him why he went on our property without our permission, he said he didn't. It's obviously not true, as there are footprints on the patio and dints in the ground where big branches have fallen. He offered to pay to replace the tree though.

So this morning neighbour comes round. Tells me and husband that he told me that this was what he was having done. I told him that he did not, and he basically is accusing me of lying. But you could tell by his demeanour that he is worried. He knows we did not agree to this. He said they wanted this doing as the tree was blocking like to their garden. We said this isn't a TRIM, it's a butchering. There are no leaves, just a trunk. Basically a long stump. I asked him why he told the tree surgeon that he'd had multiple conversations with us, and he said he didn't. He also said he didn't know the tree surgeon had to come on our land. He said he doesn't want to fall out and that he would pay to replace the tree but that he didn't want a tall one. We said that actually he had to make good and replace like with like (This is what solicitors advised).

So today we have been to a tree place. The problem is access. A tree that will fit round the side of our house will be maybe 4-5 metres tall, not very mature, not provide the shade or character that we had. The willow might grow back, but it will no way be anything like it was before. The tree company can provide a mature tree, but it will require a crane. And it'll be something like £4000 + crane costs + planting costs + transport costs. So not sure what we should do, insist that they take out the willow and put the expensive mature tree in it's place? Plant a smaller tree next to it? Plant the expensive tree next to it?

I am just so upset that they have done this. We've spent so much time and effort getting the house right, getting the garden right and now everything I look out the window I see an eyesore. We used to open the curtains in our bedroom in the morning and see just sky and our tree. Not anymore :(

Has anyone been in this situation before?? Legally I know they are bot in the wrong. We COULD get solicitors involved etc, but not sure if we want all that stress

Advice/stories welcome please
clairlybel
 
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Re: Neighbours have chopped down our tree without our permis

Postby arsie » Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:23 pm

Do you have evidence of what was there before? You will need this and pictures of scuff marks and trespass.

The neighbours have pulled a fast one and I am afraid you are either going to have to grin and bear it (if you don't want a fight) or, what I would do, get quotes and valuations and threaten them with the courts either for criminal damage or trespass (civil) or both. These days the remit of the small claims track is within the amount you have estimated costs (~£5k) and then you have your personal damages etc which I guess is a similar amount at least. The contentious nature of this dispute is such that the courts might decide this is not a simple small claims track (no legal costs awarded/self representation) but full blown court case so solicitors, barristers etc and costs greatly exceeding a paltry £10k claim. Ouch.

I would not bother with the client/tree surgeons' different stories. They are trying to hide behind a smoke screen but it's likely bollocks: no tree surgeon would act like that if he didn't have explicit instructions. They are telling fibs. Don't fall for this diversionary ploy but go for the client (neighbour) directly.

There are tree experts on here who may care to comment. I am just an amateur with limited court experience.
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Re: Neighbours have chopped down our tree without our permis

Postby span » Mon Feb 09, 2015 10:57 am

He wants light? Plant yourself a lleylandi hedge and make him yearn for the good old days of only one willow tree.
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Re: Neighbours have chopped down our tree without our permis

Postby arborlad » Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:10 pm

clairlybel wrote:. He said it is called pollarding and that is what neighbour instructed.
Advice/stories welcome please



Had the tree ever been pollarded before?
arborlad

smile...it confuses people
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Re: Neighbours have chopped down our tree without our permis

Postby Roblewis » Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:35 pm

To be honest with willows the pollarding will result in a much denser shrub like tree that will reach about 10 metres in a couple of years so they will get even less light than they had :twisted: :twisted: Willows can establish from nothing to large within a couple of years dependent on variety. Our corkscrew willow has gone from 1 metre to 6 metre in 3 years and they are relatively slow growing for a willow. So you could get a replacement that would take over in a year or so BUT you will have to remove the stump of the old tree or it WILL grow back, this was precisely how willows were and are managed for the whicker work industry. You would ultimately have a multi trunk tree if it is left.
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Re: Neighbours have chopped down our tree without our permis

Postby clairlybel » Mon Feb 09, 2015 7:39 pm

arsie thanks for your reply, yes we have photos of the tree before. And yes we've taken pictures of the footprint plus dints in the ground. Neighbour has offered to pay to replace, but don't think he meant in the £5000+ region. Getting 2 more quotes and then will see what he says.

Span my friends have suggested lleylandi as well! Can you buy them quite tall already??

aborlad, no we have never had the tree pollarded. We've never done anything to it. If the neighbours had said anything other than "just a trim on our side", we'd have got quotes ourselves and worked out exactly what needed to be done to it.

Roblewis thanks for your reply. I've been googling pictures and also at the 'tree shop' we went to yesterday, we were shown some trees with growth after pollarding, and to me they really didn't look that nice. I think it is a white willow.

Wondering if we should get the neighbours to fund a new tree but also put in new fences up to the 2m limit (they are probably about a metre now). Just don't like the idea that they can jump the fence at the minute. Also want to get pad locks for the side gates as that's how they got access when we weren't home. They must have reached over to un-do the bolt.
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Re: Neighbours have chopped down our tree without our permis

Postby Roblewis » Mon Feb 09, 2015 8:59 pm

Just remember that establishing a large tree is far harder than one up to half grown. In a few years the smaller tree could well exceed in height any mature tree that is planted. A 2m fence is also a good idea
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Re: Neighbours have chopped down our tree without our permis

Postby stufe35 » Mon Feb 09, 2015 9:09 pm

I'm not a tree expert, but most varieties of willow grow like crazy, in the space of a couple of years think your tree will look fine again and realistically this will be the fastest way you'll get a decent tree.

Pol larding is a popular process and I believe your tree will survive.

The cost and logistics of planting a mature tree are massive, and you risk it not surviving. You'll make a right mess getting the old one out.

So what action can you take against them. Tricky one.
The cost and stress of trying to extract the money from this man have to be considered...
Let's see what people have to say.

You might just have to take satisfaction from the fact you now know the tree annoys him and cherish every new branch that sprouts.
Perhaps scare him silly with lots of legal letters, quotes for removing old tree, crane for new one etc.over a period of months but ultimately do nothing. Should scare him into not doing it again though....and if he does you'll know it's not an accident and it will then be time for the court room.?

No expert as I say, just a few ideas for the pot. It's horrible to be bullied, but remember , revenge is a dish best served cold.
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Re: Neighbours have chopped down our tree without our permis

Postby arsie » Mon Feb 09, 2015 9:25 pm

Stu speaks wisely.

My earlier post was in anger and, on reflection, sadly, best you take revenge quietly. Willow is a very determined plant and very hard to kill. The plant's response to severe cutting back might be surprising. Meantime maybe put the spooks up this two faced bastard by threatening action. Certainly he was completely out of order by trespassing and also by chopping down your tree without permission.
Last edited by arsie on Mon Feb 09, 2015 9:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Neighbours have chopped down our tree without our permis

Postby COGGY » Mon Feb 09, 2015 9:39 pm

Hi

Keep copies of all photos, all letters, emails, etc with the bully (sorry neighbour). At least now you know not to trust him again ever. Get the higher fence put up as soon as possible. It is very hard to find that a neighbour cannot be trusted. It is also very true that the best way to come out on top is to keep your cool and act calmly. If you choose carefully and restrict the roots bamboo is also very good for providing privacy and is not subject to the High Hedge Act.

Kind regards
Coggy
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Re: Neighbours have chopped down our tree without our permis

Postby stufe35 » Mon Feb 09, 2015 9:46 pm

If you think another invasion on your garden is likely consider CCTV, that way you have evidence. It's not expensive and is a 24hr guard. Might save on needing a new fence ?

Another thought, I think trees are killed by drilling holes into them and inserting poison capsules. Have a good inspection of your tree and make sure your friendly neighbour hasn't done that too. !
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Re: Neighbours have chopped down our tree without our permis

Postby arborlad » Mon Feb 09, 2015 9:58 pm

clairlybel wrote:aborlad, no we have never had the tree pollarded..



That's not quite what I asked, a tree that has been previously pollarded will react differently to a tree that never has been pollarded. Although the tree surgeon may have used the term, that type of work to a mature tree that has never had that type of work - is not pollarding.
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Re: Neighbours have chopped down our tree without our permis

Postby clairlybel » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:52 pm

Stufe35 thank you for your reply. I think you've hit the point exactly - what action do we take against them. I think they will pay for a new tree, but he choices we have are, how big a tree, and is it to replace the willow or next to willow. We had some recommendations of what to put next to the willow, Carpinus betulus (hornbeam), apparently the shape of it will mean it won't fight with the willow if the willow grows back.
Also, is one new tree really enough to make neighbour realise that what he has done is very very wrong.
I don't think they have drilled holes in it!

Coggy, we have lots of photos, and had someone round yesterday to do a quote for a taller fence.

Aborlad, sorry for not being clear. I don't know if the tree has ever been pollarded before. The tree surgeon did say that he had worked on the tree before, (eg with a previous owner) but I don't know what that consisted of. If is HAS been pollarded before, how could it react this time?

arsie, my reactions have pretty much all been in anger! Taking revenge quietly and slowly doesn't seem like enough to me right now, but I will probably calm down. The view onto our garden is not very nice right now, just want it putting right as soon as possible.
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Re: Neighbours have chopped down our tree without our permis

Postby MacadamB53 » Tue Feb 10, 2015 4:30 pm

Hi clairlybel,

whilst I can understand you're shocked and angry remember - you still have the tree.

if the tree hasn't actually been damaged then you have lost nothing but the branches and the pleasure of having a fine tree.

so, why not get the tree independently assessed - at the neighbour's cost - and if it is deemed healthy and capable of returning to its former glory you settle for a sum to make up for the wait you'll have to endure and if it is deemed incapable of recovering accept you've lost the tree and settle for a more sizeable sum.

you don't mention how long you've owned (and not attended to) the tree...

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Neighbours have chopped down our tree without our permis

Postby arsie » Tue Feb 10, 2015 4:51 pm

MacadamB53 wrote:why not get the tree independently assessed - at the neighbour's cost - and if it is deemed healthy and capable of returning to its former glory you settle for a sum to make up for the wait you'll have to endure and if it is deemed incapable of recovering accept you've lost the tree and settle for a more sizeable sum.
Good idea.

And if the neighbour won't play ball, these words put the wording of your court claim quite succinctly :evil:
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